We're seeing the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow fight for its life. Their latest gambit is using parents, who have joined the school's lawsuit to keep the Ohio Department of Education from determining whether the $100 million per year the state sends to ECOT is justified.
Don't think for a second that ECOT's fighting for parents of its kids. ECOT is fighting to keep the $100 million, mile-long gravy train rolling. All ODE wants to do is inspect that train's box cars to see if they're empty.
But this is a typical poor performing charter school/school choice Ohio tactic: run out the two or three parents who love the school and make it seem like closing the school is an affront to American decency, apple pie, Old Glory, or something equally offensive. However, remember, not even 4 in 10 students graduate the nation's largest for-profit school on time and nearly 9 in 10 students stay in ECOT less than 2 years.
So the data shows pretty clearly that the vast majority of ECOT parents do not love ECOT.
But in all these stories about ECOT, media never take the next step: What has ECOT's repeated failure meant for kids and parents of children who are not in ECOT?
For example, in the 2014-2015 school year, ECOT removed 90 students and $672,928 from Westerville -- John Kasich's hometown. Every dollar sent to ECOT went to a far worse performing school option. Yet that $7,402 per pupil that the state sent from Westerville to ECOT meant that for every kid that went to ECOT, Westerville parents had to fork over nearly $5,000 in property taxes. That's because they had to make up the difference between ECOT's $7,402 and the $2,526 per pupil the state would have sent to Westerville if the students had stayed in that district.
So just to make up for the ECOT payments to those 90 kids, the remaining 14,685 kids in Westerville lost $30 each in state funding, which their parents had to make up for with $464,455 in property taxes. The loss of just 90 of Westerville's 14,775 kids to ECOT caused reduced opportunities for every kid in Westerville, and added to the local property tax burden of every land owning parent.
To add insult to injury, because the performance difference between ECOT and Westerville is so vast, this ECOT funding actually punishes a far higher performing district. All so a far worse performing charter can make enough money to pay their teachers, give every kid a $2,000 laptop every year and still clear more than 45% profit.
Remember, ECOT doesn't have buildings, buses, lunch ladies, custodians, and a whole host of other services brick and mortar schools have.
This is why it is so important for ODE to stick to its guns and figure out if any kids are receiving the instruction they deserve at ECOT, or whether our tax dollars are just paying for ECOT founder William Lager's lavish lifestyle (not to mention his political largess). Remember, ECOT makes enough money from the state that it could withstand as much as an 85% cut in funding and still pay 602 of its 607 teachers' salaries.
It is up to ODE to fight for the millions of families whose children have seen their educational opportunities significantly reduced because of ECOT's taxpayer-funded boondoggle. It is these parents whose stories go untold amid the bombast of ECOT's well-paid lobbyists and lawyers. These parents and children are hurt indirectly by ECOT almost as much as the thousands whom ECOT directly fails every year.